Skip to comments.Bush baits a trap for Arafat
Posted on 04/06/2002 6:06:44 AM PST by Clive
'What do you make of Bush's speech? Cave-in? Or prelude to something bigger?"
This was the question flashed at me by an American blogger within seconds of the President concluding his address on Thursday. The speed of modern thought is astonishing, impressive. I took a minute to make up my mind, almost fearing someone else might hit the buzzer first. But having now slept on it, I'm sure the answer is: "Continuation of something bigger."
On the face of it, you would expect a speech that once again told Israel to pull back from its present military operation to destroy as much as possible of the terrorist infrastucture in the West Bank would demoralize U.S. allies, Israel in particular. Nothing but happy noises from there, so deep as I am able to plumb Israeli officialdom. Qualified approval from the Arab world. Whether more or less "moderate," every Arab government agreed that the part about Israel pulling back was "encouraging." They then ignored or mildly rebuked the long and rather feisty sections about aiding and abetting terrorism. In other words, the parts addressed to them.
The timing was notable, as an example of diplomatic craft, for the speech was made the day before Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, set out for Mr. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas -- in the awkward position of trying to support Mr. Bush while being obliged to tell him about opposition to his policies from many European colleagues. And the day after Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, had publicly told the U.S. to step out of the "peace process," and let the European and "moderate" Arab states step in, to the task of grinding concessions out of Israel. I rather think Mr. Bush relished driving his truck over Mr. Prodi's foot.
Europe is in pain, the more excruciating because it cannot be discussed in the candour with which I will now discuss it. In France especially, but also right across Europe, there has been an extraordinary series of attacks on Jewish synagogues, schools, businesses, community centres and individuals. These appear to be still escalating, a new Kristallnacht in which Jews across Europe are now beginning to seek cover, and once again finding little sympathy from their non-Jewish neighbours.
The reality is that Europeans are increasingly afraid of their Muslim immigrants. They see what is happening now in the West Bank and Gaza, and they genuinely fear it may explode in Europe's face -- that the suicide bombers will soon be crashing into their coffee shops, their discos, their pizzerias. It is the fear that these attacks on Jews, by youth gangs from Europe's impoverished Muslim ghettoes and slums, are the dreaded precursor of a far worse "clash of civilizations" to come.
So it is not anti-Semitism, though some of the old "aristocratic" distaste for Jews certainly adds to the flavouring. Rather it is the old European instinct to appeasement.
If the existence of Israel so antagonizes the Arabs, then why must we think about this "shitty little country"? Why won't Israel just go away? If the existence of the Jews antagonizes the Muslims, then why won't the Jews go away? ("Surely there are wide open spaces for them in Wyoming," as one correspondent unselfconsciously explained.)
That the great majority of Arab and other Muslims came to Europe to escape the oppression of their own societies, and that they share in the dread of the Islamist agitators, should go without saying. They are the first to realize that the fire has begun, that it will take tremendous will now to douse it. And yet they are themselves easy to intimidate within their own ghettoized communities; and they watch their children carried away in the Islamist breeze.
One of the ways we have had in North America of coming to terms with racial and cultural tensions, is to talk about them openly within our "melting pot." If a single synagogue were firebombed here, it would be on the front pages. But if you look through the European press, you find little desire even to report on such distasteful occurrences. News of the new Kristallnacht is played down, as if, when no one notices, it will go away.
It is not just the desire to capture the large and growing potential Muslim vote. It is a real fear that anything done on behalf of the Jews may further inflame the radical Muslim constituency. The mood is: "Leave us out of this."
Instead, the effort is invested in trying to bring Israel to heel, through a more comprehensive "peace process"; in demanding that the Israelis tame their inflammatory habit of trying to defend themselves against the terrorist onslaught.
President Bush's speech Thursday, more than any made before, was addressed to the Europeans and Arabs. He knows already that the Arabs will be deaf to anything he says on the subject of terrorism; he is hoping the Europeans will listen. He has the unenviable task of trying to wake old Europe, of saying: "Look, we cannot stand for this."
He is saying (and I paraphrase): "Look, let's put all our cards on the table. Let us confirm one last time in clear public view whether Mr. Arafat will stop inciting suicide bombers, whether the moderate Arab states will acknowledge Israel's right to be, whether they will unambiguously condemn the massacres of Israeli civilians in their state-controlled media, whether in fact we have anything to talk about. We need perfect clarity on all these points, and then we'll take it from there."
This is not a new departure from established American policy. It is a development of the policy heralded a fortnight ago when the vice president, Dick Cheney, invited Yasser Arafat to meet him in Cairo -- on the condition he first publicly condemn, in Arabic, all terrorist strikes on Israel -- an invitation that Mr. Arafat then nervily declined. Mr. Bush is in effect repeating the question, and concentrating everyone's attention on Mr. Arafat's reply. I should think that Mr. Bush, by now, is already convinced that he will give the wrong answer; but he does want everyone to hear, before he proceeds.
As I wrote before, even two weeks ago Mr. Cheney and the U.S., were thus stepping between Mr. Sharon and Mr. Arafat, "taking the next dance" as it were. Even yesterday, the U.S. envoy, Anthony Zinni, was reminding Mr. Arafat of the new context in which he is viewed -- that his known alliances with international terrorists, and with regimes such as those of Iran, Syria, and Iraq, were making him into a direct enemy, not just of Israel, but of the United States.
With his speech Thursday, Mr. Bush began to make the case at large, and very publicly. One of its subtexts, addressed to the "moderate" Arab states, and by extension Europeans, was, "How can I take seriously your demands that I restrain the Israelis, when you either won't or can't restrain the Palestinians, and Mr. Arafat can't even stop inciting suicide bombers?"
The speech would certainly have been a cave-in, if there had been any indication that the U.S. was actually twisting Israel's arm. The most intrusive demand on Israel, that it stop extending settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, had already been accepted by the Sharon government.
The hourglass was set on the present "Operation Defensive Wall," which may now have only several days to run before the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, arrives in theatre. But this operation has already achieved most of its objectives, in a surprisingly short time, thanks largely to the preparatory work of "Operation Root Treatment" before it. There have been huge intelligence hauls in Ramallah and elsewhere, weapons collecting on an unprecedented scale, and a breakthrough round-up of wanted terrorists. The feverish Palestinian executions of "collaborators" are among several indications that they, too, give the Israelis high marks.
At the time of writing, the operation still had not extended into the Gaza strip. I believe the reason is that the whole thing was aimed at Mr. Arafat's own terrorist infrastructure. With the isolation of Arafat in Ramallah, Gaza has increasingly become Hamas territory, to be dealt with separately, and less urgently, since Hamas is clearly on the U.S. State Department's list of international terror organizations, and will raise fewer objections in future.
The vexing question, "What to do with Arafat?" will, thanks to Mr. Bush's present posture, become more and more a public one. Earlier this week, according to my information, both the Israelis and the Americans were negotiating with Morocco's King Mohammed about his future digs.
Mr. Bush is now putting this question before the world: "We have to do something. Don't pretend we can look away."
Prelude to something bigger. I think that President Bush asks Israel to back up a bit to give Ararat enough rope to hang himself. When Israel finally pulls out the bombing murders (what's left of them) will start at it again. Then Israel will have our blessing to do what they have to do and we can take out saddam with minimal fussing from the arabs.
This was the question flashed at me by an American blogger within seconds of the President concluding his address on Thursday.
What's a blogger?
....is it something on a par with wanker?
I also think Arafat might be persuaded to retire for "health" reasons. A lttle blurb about his doctor (a Jordanian) saying that he needed an overdue check-up made me think of this possibility.
IMHO Arafat was as good as gone as soon as Bush moved into the WH, but the moves will be made on Bush's time - not the EU, the whiners or even Arafat.
Mr. Bush is now putting this question before the world: "We have to do something. Don't pretend we can look away."
We can no longer pretend that World War III has not already begun. It started on 9/11/2001.
Weblogs, or blogs, are Web sites where individuals post links to interesting news stories and to other blogs, and where they discuss their views on the issues of the day. Sound familiar? Uh-huh. Blogs are not unlike what we do at Freep, only more individualized. And the best of them are a delight to read.
I on't think the moderate Arabs give a rat's ass about Arafat. Their goal in on Plaestinisans on their turf. Palis are very low class and objects of Arab discrimination.
Prince Abdullah publically entered the fray and in so doing sent a message to Arafat... your time is up my friend. This message has been severely garbled but it was neverthe less delivered.
The suicide bombings followed to upset the moderate Arab initiative.
Maybe it's a Canadian bloke.
Wonder what they call his present circumstances?
This writer surely has the bird's eye low-down on this caper (whatever that means.)
I think maybe this concept of strategery, which I define as Dubya looking over the horizon with broad vision and keen eye, is like a chess player who's really several moves ahead of the game. In a statement taking only a few minutes to read, with minimal garnish, he dished up a finessed rebuke to the EU-trash and the Arab 'League' to let them know the time is nigh to choose on which side of the line in the sand they will stand.
I love the smell of straight talk in the morning. It smells like victory.
(That's why I always have breakfast with Free Republic.)
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